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Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion

by Auroville Language Laboratory
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Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion
Empowering Women & Girls in Auroville & Bioregion

Hi everyone!

Remember our last project report?

https://www.GlobalGiving.org/projects/empowering-women-and-girls-in-auroville-and-bioregion/reports/?subid=137282

So, we did the first batch of the women's Tomatis group English training last year.  But after that, we were inundated with our ongoing work, and the building as well, that we honestly could not take the Women's project forward after the first batch.

In our previous report, we mentioned this was due to the fact that all of us are multi-tasking like crazy, and we also lack one dedicated person (woman) committed exclusively to the project as a whole.    We did think that as soon as one member of our team, would get back after her maternity leave (which extended to a year!), she could dedicate herself to the project. But that was an impractical idea.  Because she brings her little one-year-old, to the office with her.  So while our team has unexpectedly expanded now with this tiny being, who keeps us all smiling and happy, it also means that she can only work half-time, taking care of the regular ongoing programs, but won't be able to do the running around required by the GG Women's project.

And as of today, our prayers are answered!  We are getting an Indian-origin volunteer, a recent graduate from the University of Ottawa with a Bachelor in Social Science, specialization in International Development, who is looking to pursue a Bachelor of Education and become a language teacher!  She plans to come in Feb and will stay here until May.

She finds the whole Tomatis approach really interesting, as also our GlobalGiving women's project.  She is totally on board to take this project as her responsibility and to work with our team brainstorming, planning, seeing how we need to adjust the requirements of the program with the constraints women are facing in their time schedules (without compromising the program of course).  She would need to go around informing the Auroville units/NGOs that work with village women and girls about it, to go out to the schools to reach out to the schoolteachers and the girls, etc. So that we can try and meet some of the goals we dreamt about when we launched the project!  She will also take care of the regular English lessons for these women and can do specific work with each woman during the Tomatis Active Phase exercises. She’ll also teach a regular non-Tomatis English class, which will be great, so we can observe the differences more closely.

So this is fantastic news; can't wait, and will write next end Feb or Beginning March once she has arrived and we have made our plan of action.

Meanwhile, if any of you wouldn't mind going back and reading our original project proposal, for which you made your donation, and give us some fresh outside perspective, make some comments, ask some questions, that would be wonderful and would really help.

Love, and looking forward to hearing from at least some of you!

Mita

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Passive Phase Listening
Passive Phase Listening

Hello all!

How time flies!

Our first GlobalGiving Women's English group has finished its Tomatis program.  They did the 40 hours passive and 30 hours active program of listening training, just as stated in our project proposal.  All reported a greater understanding of English, as well as less hesitation in speaking, more ease or flow of the language, and more confidence.

Maybe you can evaluate this yourselves?  Have a look at these Before and After videos and tell us what you think.  What do you hear and observe? Do you see any changes?  Please share your observations/thoughts!

M Video - https://youtu.be/waCTrtSc980

Unfortunately, due to the startup difficulties, only two of the four took the Language Lab's English level test before starting the program, in the middle, and after finishing.  But those tests - mainly grammar tests - revealed an improvement of 50%.  Which is amazing, considering the fact that everyone thinks one has to have classes specifically on grammar in order to learn it. Whereas, the 50% improvement was due only to the listening training, with no grammar classes at all!

Three of them followed up the program by joining English classes with a teacher in our Tomatis classroom.  (One could not due to work commitments).  The youngest just joined college.  Another qualified to start the process of joining Auroville as a "Newcomer".  The third is making progress writing emails, required by her job.  We will keep following them to see how they progress and what they need.  More individual sessions reading out loud with a teacher will definitely help further.

Meanwhile, it has been difficult to create another group to follow the first one.  We realize that actually, developing the project as we originally conceived it, requires one person dedicated only to the project, who can do the legwork required to spread the word to women.  It is true that we get a lot more men than women coming to the Lab on their own.  So reaching out to women, requires a woman dedicated to the task!  Inundated with so many different tasks and work, including our commitment to the daily programs for children with special needs (autism spectrum, learning disorders, developmental delays, etc), and so much work related to the Auroville collectivity in the last few months, there was very little time to do this PR work and reach out in the way the project requires.  But it is our Commitment, and we will keep it! 

The project requires new energy! Actually, we had depended on one of our wonderful women assistants to anchor this project.  But her maternity leave extended (3 months have turned into 11). We miss her terribly, but life circumstances got in the way!  She promises now to be back in January.  In the meantime, we'll reach out to the pool of Auroville volunteers for a Tamil-speaking woman to work either full-time or at least half time.  We have been praying for that angel to arrive soon!  As of yesterday, we might just have found someone who can lead us to her!  We'll keep you posted!

Drawing/Artwork is an essential element
Drawing/Artwork is an essential element
Time for self-expression through painting!
Time for self-expression through painting!
Active Phase - Perfect listening posture!
Active Phase - Perfect listening posture!
Exercising the Audio-Vocal Loop!
Exercising the Audio-Vocal Loop!
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Who said Language Learning was difficult????
Who said Language Learning was difficult????

Dear friends: all of you who gave to our project :

We have fabulous news!

The GlobalGiving English Women's first batch started.  There were 5 of them, and one dropped out due to inability to commit the time.  But the four others continued.  They did the entire one month of daily listening training, two hours a day Monday to Friday... They did the entire Tomatis process of listening to English as babies in the womb (the intra-uterine listening rich in high frequency sounds), in what we call the "Passive Phase".  Then, a three-week break.

They just got back yesterday (Monday) to start the "Active Phase".

All report being able to understand English much better than before, and their ability to speak has vastly improved!

In fact, one of them, N., floored me completely today : She hardly ever opened her mouth and had this huge blockage towards speaking English.  And she was excruciatingly shy.  You could feel that something wanted to get past her throat, but it just wouldn't.  I'd had her in class some years ago in our old building as well.  Today: gosh, you should have heard her speak!  Wow. I couldn't believe how she answered my questions easily. Turns out she went to the Auroville Entry group today, which vets people who want to join Auroville.   She described to me the questions they asked and reported her answers.  She was speaking English!!!  When I commented on how her English had improved, and asked her how she felt, she said "I am so happy," with the biggest smile!  I know how frustrated she was earlier, that no matter how much she tried and how many classes she would attend and how much time she would work with the software on our mediatheque, she still could never speak English.  So that big huge blockage has dissolved! She is speaking now, even before the Active Phase!

The other younger one, M, also extremely shy earlier, was laughing and repeating the Active Phase exercises, as were R and J.

But what is the most flabbergasting information : We did our regular English level test which allows us to determine whether someone is a Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced student.  This test is basically a Grammar-based test. We'd done this just before the start of the program.  We redid the tests after the one month Listening Training and the 3-week break, just before they got back on Monday. Their performance was significantly better!  What is remarkable is that they did not attend a single grammar class, nor work on the computers in this time.  The improvements in grammar were entirely due to the Listening Training alone! 

Which just goes to prove what Dr. Tomatis said in the 1950s : that babies learn language, including grammar, in the womb!  By re-creating those womb-like conditions sonically, through our Tomatis machine, we can help people assimiliate (rather than "learn") the language, break down blockages, get over the need to mentally translate all the time, imbibe grammar "naturally", gain confidence enough to start speaking and have the speech flow!

In the world of education, this is revolutionary and ground-breaking!

We do have videos of them reading and also answering a few basic questions before they started the program, and now, just before the Active Phase. The difference is remarkable and we'll put the videos up on our Youtube channel in a few days.  It's SO exciting!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCeTIG0y-sBMlyywZNdZcAng/videos

We'll keep you posted about their progress in the Active Phase.

ALL THIS BECAME POSSIBLE THANKS TO ALL OF YOU! 

None of this could have happened without you and your donation to the project.

So, an enormous Thank You!

By the way, in other news :  have a look :

- Computer link :https://transsolar.com/news/newsletter-june-2019-online

- Mobile link : https://mailchi.mp/133413f0a158/tsnewsletterjune2019?e=dd883081c1

One of the world's leading Climate Engineering firms, focussing on constructing buildings and climate responsive eco-cities, is studying our building as a Climate-Responsive building!

Please do us the pleasure of writing back if you see this and read this!  We'd LOVE to hear what you think about all this. Do you think your money was well spent????  Hoping to hear from you soon!

Links:

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Celebration/Launch Invitation
Celebration/Launch Invitation

Never Say Die!

Nevertheless, Persist!

 

Dear friends: All of you wonderful people who have supported our project.

We have great news! 

Our celebratory launch is tomorrow.  June 1st, 2019 at 10am IST Indian Standard Time.

Attached is your invitation to participate from afar.

You are invited to participate energetically, if it is a decent hour in your time zone. Or, just think of us when you can.

More details are here : 

http://www.aurovillelanguagelab.org/latest-news.php

In brief, we combined everything: the GG monies, along with the support we received from two funding agencies which give money yearly to Auroville, and other donations, and work exchanges, and we are launching the Tomatis Classroom and the Group Listening Programs (open to all) as well as the GG Women's English Program.

With deepest thanks for your participation, and for enabling it to happen.

Love,

Mita

for Tapas and myself, and our full team.

PS : Will send a more detailed report in some time, with pics!

GG  English Women's Group Meeting 08 May 2019
GG English Women's Group Meeting 08 May 2019
Preparation for the GG Women's English Group
Preparation for the GG Women's English Group
Another Photo of the Women's Group Meeting
Another Photo of the Women's Group Meeting
One More Photo of the GG Women's Group Meeting
One More Photo of the GG Women's Group Meeting

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Dear friends,

Already time for another report, and we find that January has turned to March.  We haven't been sitting idle (that we never do!).  In fact, it feels like we have been on a roller-coaster ride!  So many things happened, which have delayed our long-awaited project launch.

The update from the previous report is that: We got the dongles, we got the two sound cards (wow!), we got all the amplifiers except one (which arrives tomorrow!), we got the laptop and we got the original Windows.  We always take a lot of time researching options, specs, worldwide pricing, support, etc., before we buy any equipment, and this took quite a while.  Things are much quicker and easier with tech in the USA; here orders take time! Then we faced problems in the installation which again took time to troubleshoot and sort out, with support from our friends/supplier in Germany - all of which just got sorted out last week!    With the arrival of the last amplifier, we will actually be technically set to launch!  Both the GlobalGiving Women's English project and the Tomatis Classroom project.  (We had reported earlier, we combined the two to be able to do the import of the equipment properly).  It has been extremely long to put it all together!  Incidentally, in December Jan we already bought the chairs, bolsters, carpets, hygienic ear puffs, towels etc to prepare the physical space for the women.

Other than the technical problems to sort out, and the Highway issue, several things took my time away from the Lab and this project.  The main thing was the organization of the  "January sessions" - a very important event for Auroville, where a group of 8 extremely senior Town Planners came from Germany and the UK to help Auroville finds ways forward in its planning conundrum, caught in deep polarities which were preventing the growth of Auroville as a whole... the idea was to conceive an ecological and humane, integrative planning model based on community participation which could break those polarities. A blue-green Galaxy model for Auroville was conceived, inspired by but showing an alternative to the concrete-based Galaxy model of 1968 dating to when Auroville was founded. I was fully involved and subsequently also received a lot of the backlash....  just coming out of that now.  Then, two other things happened: CHARLES and another Europe trip! 

The Europe Trip came unannounced, really suddenly, at the last minute: a Tomatis Continuing training in Switzerland, mainly on a specific program developed by a professor from the University of Heidelberg, on Primary Auditory Evoked Potentials, which could help prove the effects of Tomatis. We can do before and after tests and thus have a worldwide scientific documentation/database to go with all our incredible anecdotal stories of progress. I couldn't miss that, so I went.  I've just returned this past weekend!  In fact, this professor wants to collaborate with us on our Language research!  Also went to Germany and thanks to the friends of the January sessions, met a company specializing in passive cooling and climate engineering... they will help us with the technical know-how to complete our cooling and dehumidification shafts!  In fact, they were super interested in our building!  So that is a great thing! They are discussing internally how to do it, since it will be pro-bono!  It was a fantastic meeting!

And on top of all that, CHARLES visited!  A friend and Tomatis colleague from Canada.  He'd always been inspired by the Tomatis film of 1992 which documents me in a language experiment which shows the power of Tomatis. Have been meeting him at the Swiss conferences every two years.  He suddenly called up and said he was coming and wanted to work with our team to find the Tomatis settings/parameters for TAMIL!  A long-standing dream!  Our entire team was involved.  I even had to leave for Switzerland before he finished. It was fantastic!  We have a serious hypothesis now!  It involved working directly with the Tomatis machine with several Tamil readers, reading under different Tomatis language settings, to see which settings helped in the language flow and which didn't at all.  And then seeing if the ones that worked and helped in the flow of reading, also helped Tamil learners.  Charles and I had talked about this two years ago.  Charles loved working with our team (he found them fantastic!) and together they managed to find a setting that seems pretty probable for Tamil.  Now we have to test it out further with more readers and more learners!  In the process, all of our young team learnt to manipulate the machine and also were exposed to the Tomatis effect themselves, which was eye-opening for them.  So many volunteers participated, including our welder's wife (in between all this Tapas was also supervising our roof extension to protect the roof from rain)!  Every Tamil member of our team participated including our Tamil teacher.

So all this time, while the tech part was being laboriously put together, all this other stuff was going on.  Which basically means, only now can we finally turn our attention to implementing our GlobalGiving Group English for Women and Tomatis classroom projects! 

We've had discussions all along of course, about various aspects of the program.  We've faced many questions about its implementation...  For example, what is the apt time for the women for the listening.  How can we make sure with the families that they can spare two hours a day?  If two hours a day (the regular Tomatis program) is too much to give and eats into their household duty time, then how can we modify the program without compromising on its quality.  What liberties can we take with the Tomatis protocol to adjust to the actual realities of women? Can we and should we offer it free of cost (the answer is No, there has to be a participation)?  Can we logistically organize two different groups, one following the regular protocol in the day, and the other in the late afternoon/early evening?  (We also wrote to the Auroville units employing village women asking for their views and inputs).  What is the price at which we can offer it (that greatly reduced group price) so that it does not negatively affect the individual program pricing and clients?  How can we organize our team's work timings to facilitate the group of women who need to come after work?  One more member of the team now is fully trained and able to run the Tomatis programs, which makes up for the missing member who is still out on maternity leave.  This was also done to prepare for the GlobalGiving program. We've also talked about how we are going to advertise the program, using the local Tamil newspapers, and organising several hands-on introductory experiments (not talks, which are boring.  I did one, for the first group of Tamil women, and it was excruciatingly boring I thought.  People need to see practically what it is!) every Saturday for a few Saturdays till we get stable and good groups to work with. Saturdays are important because they are the only day we don't have our daily bread-and-butter Mon-Fri clients who naturally also are a huge aim of our work. [Incidentally, we've had wonderful stories of progress with all of the kids doing the Tomatis program, and that's a whole other topic in itself - several children on the Autism spectrum who have started to communicate and speak - each one a story in itself; a child with Cerebral Palsy who can now hold his head on his own, and more!].   Summertime will also bring the possibility of working with girls in their school holidays.

So you see, it indeed has been a very long time, but, we haven't been faffing off; we've been consistently working, and behind it all has been our commitment to you as donors for this project.  We are deeply aware of this commitment!   So we can't give an exact date for the project launch, but it will be in the next month or so.  I do need to have a bit of a rest, and then, there are the year-end accounts to be done (in India, the Financial Year ends on March 31st).  And we need to organise the two starting groups.  We need to be crystal clear about the hows and whats before we start. 

If you have any questions or comments, please do write and ask.  We'd love interaction.  No time to transfer photos from the iPhone to the computer now, but next time, I promise pictures.

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Organization Information

Auroville Language Laboratory

Location: Auroville, Tamil Nadu - India
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Project Leader:
Mita Radhakrishnan
Auroville, Tamil Nadu India
$9,581 raised of $10,500 goal
 
177 donations
$919 to go
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